EPA: Investigation needed into Material Sand quarry’s potential impact on Superfund site

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NORTH SMITHFIELD/BURRILLVILLE – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a five year review report for the Western Sand & Gravel Superfund site, noting that further investigation is needed of activities at a nearby property to ensure the actions there will not affect ongoing remediation efforts on the contaminated land.

The report, the seventh since the EPA became involved with the lots in the 1980s, aims to ensure that remedies put in place to protect human health and the environment are effective, and will continue to address contamination problems. The 25-acre site, which is located just north of Douglas Pike with land in both Burrillville and North Smithfield, was used for disposal of hazardous waste in the late 1970s that contaminated area groundwater.

Remediation efforts have been ongoing since 1980 with removal of contaminated groundwater, installation of filters and activation of an alternate water supply for area residents.

The latest review on status of the property notes that overall, remediation efforts have been effective. Residents, however, expressed ongoing concerns regarding fugitive dust from nearby Material Sand & Stone during a public feedback process, and EPA investigators ultimately note that more investigation will be needed to ensure the company’s activities will not impact the Superfund site.

“Multiple residents, as well as the owner of the (Superfund) site said they voiced their fugitive dust concerns to RI DEM, but feel their concerns were not adequately addressed,” notes the report, released in September.

The EPA notes that many area residents mistakenly confused the property where Material Sand operates a gravel extraction operation with the Superfund site. The actual site now holds a truck body assembly plant, and abutting land is monitored and controlled through the EPA program.

Material Sand operates a quarry on a property one lot further to the east, however, and EPA investigators noted that the parcel immediately adjacent to the Superfund site’s east is only 52 feet at its narrowest.

“This means the parcel which contains the active quarry is therefore approximately 75 feet from the boundary,” the report states. “There are no institutional controls on this parcel preventing impact to the downgradient site.”

The EPA notes that the gravel company’s property also contains eight manmade ponds.

“This is of concern due to the close proximity of these ponds to the site and the potential to disrupt groundwater dynamics and surface and/or overland flow discharges,” notes the report.

The report notes that the quarry has expanded significantly since the last review five years ago, “and has been the subject of many complaints by abutters and nearby residents.”

Further, the report states that during inspection of surrounding properties that do have institutional controls in place, “evidence of dumping of vegetative debris and water discharge,” was observed on the property between the quarry and the Superfund site, “presumed to have originated from,” the quarry property.

“RI DEM issued a Rhode Island Discharge Elimination System permit to allow infiltration of ‘stormwater,’ however it is unclear if impacts to the site were considered or if setback requirements were followed,” the EPA notes.

“Investigations into these activities are ongoing.”

The EPA’s full 104-page report can be found here.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. I heard it. and THAT’S a great question! EPA has stated that there is a plume seeping toward the Slatersville Reservoir. How’s that news for you?

  2. I had my well tested across the street from WS&G. 10 PFAS compounds were detected in my well.
    Perfluorooctanoic acid
    PFAS
    0.0013
    PPB

    Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid
    PFAS
    0.002
    PPB

    Perfluoroheptanoic acid
    PFAS
    0.0004
    PPB

    Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid
    PFAS
    0.0012
    PPB

    Perfluorohexanoic acid
    PFAS
    0.0007
    PPB

    Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid
    PFAS
    0.0011
    PPB

    11-Chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid
    PFAS
    0.0007
    PPB

    9-Chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanonane-1-sulfonic acid
    PFAS
    0.0006
    PPB

    Perfluorooctanesulfonamide
    PFAS
    0.0002
    PPB

    Perfluoropentanoic acid
    PFAS
    0.0005
    PPB
    *Below Limit of Quantification

  3. Today 11/2/23 at 10 am at my house on Greenville Road , I felt and heard the Blast at the Pine Hill Quarry off of Pound Hill Road. I have read that neighbors are worried about the Silica Dust that’s in the air after a blast. But the problem goes deeper as well, when they blast there is a possibility that the blast could open a new vein in local artesian wells around the Western Hill Recovery Site and spread the contaminants into the neighboring homes polluting your drinking source. So how is Material Sand and Stone being a good Neighbor I ask ??? To the Town of North Smithfield you should not have a New Police Station Top Priority , Take Care of the Problems we as neighbors deal with everyday. And by the way Material Sand And Stone is a quest in this Town , take care of us!!! They have been a problem for over 35 years in this Town and any Town they operate in. Do the Job you were Voted in for.

  4. Now I know why your old neighbor hood held a block party to celebrate you moving out! Too bad you didn’t move far enough AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. You can vote till the cows come home……………..but nothing will ever change! The people in this town don’t like CHANGE and they do not like being SCREWED. But in the end they will still vote the same people in and complain the whole time!!

  6. Jason and BM, the only right thing to do at this point is to wait for the next election and make sure that we vote. I had also brought concerns and filed complaints to no avail…under the previous Building official, TC and TA…crickets!

    • When they blast and drop Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust all over your house, you might have a different opinion.

      Those who inhale these very small crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:

      Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death;
      Lung cancer;
      Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); and
      Kidney disease.

      Would you want this cloud landing on your family? It is no different than asbestos.

    • Title 23
      Health and Safety
      Chapter 23
      Air Pollution
      R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-23-31
      § 23-23-31. Dust control at extractive industries.

      This section applies to all extractive industries, as that term is defined in § 45-24-31(25), that are located within one thousand five hundred feet (1,500′) of any occupied dwelling structure from the location of the piles of material defined in § 23-23-3(8).

      (1) Manufactured, unwashed sand shall not be stockpiled except in a manner that prevents fugitive dust from traveling beyond the property line of the extractive industry by use of water sprays.

      (2) In determining compliance with this provision, the director may consider one or more of the following factors:

      (i) Moisture content of the stone dust piles;

      (ii) Atmospheric humidity;

      (iii) Wind direction and velocity;

      (iv) Rainfall;

      (v) Observations of fugitive dust;

      (vi) Location of the stone dust piles; and

      (vii) Any other factors that may cause fugitive dust to travel beyond the property line of the extractive industry.

      (3) The director may approve the use of alternatives to water spray, if water is not available or its use is not practical, including, but not limited to, crusting agents or enclosures; provided that such alternatives prevent fugitive dust from traveling beyond the property line of the extractive industry.

      History of Section.
      P.L. 2015, ch. 272, § 2.

  7. In the report, it is stated that:
    “Despite multiple attempts to contact the Town of N Smithfield, no response to EPA’s inquiries were returned”
    The EPA gets stonewalled like the rest of us….

    • We can’t get a 3-5 year forecast, but we expect them to take a call from the EPA? Both issues are far above the pay grades of our officials. What does this say about the stewardship of our town? Everyone should read the EPA report.

      • I got a reply from the EPA regarding who and how they tried to make contact with the Town. No surprise in what they told me…

        “Per EPA Region 1 policy, a public notice was made available in a region-wide press release announcing all upcoming five-year reviews (FYR) in New England. The press release invited the public and local officials to submit any comments to EPA. Our office sent this press release to all media in Region 1, that had superfund sites with 2023 FYRs, and to each Town Administrator(s).

        For Western Sand & Gravel’s FYR, we interviewed the Site’s PRP, Burrillville Town Officials, RI DEM representative, and nearby community members.

        The Town of North Smithfield was unresponsive in our request for interviews. I contacted the Town Administrator multiple times via phone and email from November 2022 – March 2023.”

          • Can’t say I was surprise Mary, the stonewalling by the Administrator was what I strongly suspected. Last year I sent in a Zoning complaint that reached him and never went any further. He violated the Town’s zoning by not recording the complaint and having it investigated as is required.

            “SECTION 15.
            COMPLAINTS REGARDING VIOLATIONS
            Sec. 15.1. Procedure.
            Whenever a violation of this ordinance occurs, or is alleged to have occurred, any person may
            file a written complaint with the Zoning Enforcement Officer. Such complaint shall be in writing and
            shall state fully the cause and basis for the complaint. The Zoning Enforcement Officer shall properly
            record the complaint, immediately investigate, taking action as needed thereon as provided by this
            ordinance. Within 14 days of the date the complaint was recorded, the inspector shall notify the
            complainant in writing of his findings and/or determinations. The complainant’s personal information
            shall remain confidential and shall not be divulged to the complainee, or any other person (including
            town employees and elected officials) without written authorization of the complainant as part of the
            original formal written complaint.

            I submitted 2 zoning complaints to the town last year and then Zoning Officer Enright failed to record both. I reissued the same complaints to the current Zoning Officer Leo Cote some time ago and they too have been ignored.
            Our Town Officers are not following our Charter, our ordinances nor zoning regulations. They went so far as to issue an electrical permit to a property that does not have a Certificate of Compliance. I inquired of it and found out the permit was completed and the electricity was in use BEFORE it was inspected. Another violation. Of course, this too was ignored.

            “Sec. 7.4. Certificates of zoning compliance for new, altered, or nonconforming uses.
            It shall be unlawful to use or occupy or permit the use or occupancy of any building or premises,
            or both, or part thereof hereafter created, erected, changed, converted, or wholly or partly altered or
            enlarged in its use or structure until a Certificate of Zoning Compliance shall have been issued by the
            Inspector stating that the proposed use of the building or land conforms to the requirements of this
            ordinance; and the Inspector shall state the facts upon which the certificate is issued.
            No nonconforming structure or use shall be maintained, renewed, changed, or extended until a
            Certificate of Zoning Compliance shall have been issued by the Inspector. The Certificate of Zoning
            Compliance shall state specifically wherein the nonconforming use differs from the provisions of this
            ordinance, provided that upon enactment or amendment of this ordinance, owners or occupants of
            nonconforming uses or structures shall have 15 months to apply for certificates of zoning compliance.
            Failure to make such application within 15 months shall be presumptive evidence that at the time of
            Page 7-3
            enactment or amendment of the ordinance:
            (a) The use of the property and any structures thereon were in conformity with the provisions
            of the ordinance, including special uses approved by action of the Zoning Board of
            Review, or
            (b) The property is vacant, unused, or unoccupied and may or may not conform to the
            dimensional regulations of the district in which it is located.
            No permit for erection, alteration, moving, repair of any building shall be issued until an
            application has been made for a Certificate of Zoning Compliance, and the certificate shall be issued in
            conformity with the provisions of this ordinance upon completion of work.
            The Inspector shall maintain a record of all certificates of zoning compliance, and a copy shall be
            furnished upon request to any person.
            Failure to obtain a Certificate of Zoning Compliance shall be a violation of this ordinance and
            punishable under section 16 of this ordinance.

            It’s the Wild West here. The administration does as it pleases, ignores our Charter and Ordinances when it suits them but weaponizes them when they see fit.

            • Completely agree. They do little to protect our town and only adhere when it suits their interests or their friends….people should start voicing their complaints directly to the Zoning Board and let them follow up, or if need be have the board correct the negligence and oversight directly. Oh, and we have a new Building official? News to me.

              • Mary, one cannot simply take something to the Zoning Board. You need to make a complaint and then appeal the decision. In my zoning complaint issues, neither were filed as complaints so when Enright sent me a letter regarding my complaint, it was just an “Opinion” and not a “determination”. Thus, I could not appeal Enright’s “opinion”.

                Where in our Charter does it give us recourse when Town Officials fail to do their duty? I’ve filed 2 zoning complaints (twice) and all 4 were not handled as our ordinance states they should be. Someone is interfering with the process.

                • Recalls, normal elections (voting them out), and…. voicing your concern to the council at meetings are the first ones that come to mind. Then it becomes public knowledge and hopefully actually gets completed. If not, then the council can remove them for failure to do their job.

                  • Have you looked at what is required to get a recall? It’s easier to wait for the next election and elect a new replacement.

                  • Before anyone mentions “Bonds”, that’s a dead end. The holder of the bond just disagrees with the complaint and says “take us to court” which negates the whole reason for bonding.
                    Holding anyone accountable without having to hire a lawyer is a fool’s errand. Likely a due process issue too, now that I think of it. Maybe the ACLU might be interested in how the whole need to be bonded to hold office is just an insurance scam here in RI.

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